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Vaisampayana said,--'Then when Draupadi was about to set out she went unto the illustrious Pritha and solicited her leave. And she also asked leave of the other ladies of the household who had all been plunged into grief. And saluting and embracing every one of them as each deserved, she desired to go away. Then there arose within the inner

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apartments of the Pandavas a loud wail of woe. And Kunti, terribly afflicted upon beholding Draupadi on the eve of her journey, uttered these words in a voice choked with grief,--

'O child, grieve not that this great calamity hath overtaken thee. Thou art well conversant with the duties of the female sex, and thy behaviour and conduct also are as they should be. It behoveth me not, O thou of sweet smiles, to instruct thee as to thy duties towards thy lords. Thou art chaste and accomplished, and thy qualities have adorned the race of thy birth as also the race into which thou hast been admitted by marriage. Fortunate are the Kauravas that they have not been burnt by thy wrath. O child, safely go thou blest by my prayers. Good women never suffer their hearts to the unstung at what is inevitable. Protected by virtue that is superior to everything, soon shalt thou obtain good fortune. While living in the woods, keep thy eye on my child Sahadeva. See that his heart sinketh not under this great calamity.'

"Saying 'So be it!' the princess Draupadi bathed in tears, and clad in one piece of cloth, stained with blood, and with hair dishevelled left her mother-in-law. And as she went away weeping and wailing Pritha herself in grief followed her. She had not gone far when she saw her sons shorn of their ornaments and robes, their bodies clad in deerskins, and their heads down with shame. And she beheld them surrounded by rejoicing foes' and pitied by friends. Endued with excess of parental affection, Kunti approached her sons in that state, and embracing them all, and in accents choked by woe, She said these words,--

"Ye are virtuous and good-mannered, and adorned with all excellent qualities and respectful behaviour. Ye are all high-minded, and engaged in the service of your superiors. And ye are also devoted to the gods and the performance of sacrifices. Why, then, hath this calamity overtaken you. Whence is this reverse of fortune? I do not see by whose wickedness this sin hath overtaken you. Alas I have brought you forth. All this must be due to my ill fortune. It is for this that ye have been overtaken by this calamity, though ye all are endued with excellent virtues. In energy and prowess and strength and firmness and might, ye are not wanting. How shall ye now, losing your wealth and possessions, live poor in the pathless woods? If I had known before that ye were destined to live in the woods, I would not have on Pandit's death come from the mountains of Satasringa to Hastinapore. Fortunate was your father, as I now regard, for he truly reaped the fruit of his asceticism, and he was gifted with foresight, as he entertained the wish of ascending heaven, without having to feel any pain on account of his sons. Fortunate also was the virtuous Madri, as I regard her today, who had, it seems, a fore-knowledge of what would happen and who on that account, obtained the high path of emancipation and every blessing therewith. All, Madri looked upon me as her stay, and her mind and her affections

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were ever fixed on me. Oh, fie on my desire of life, owing to which suffer all this woe. Ye children, ye are all excellent and dear unto me. I have obtained you alter much suffering. I cannot leave you. Even I will go with you. Alas, O Krishna, (Draupadi), why dost thou leave me so? Everything endued with life is sure to perish. Hath Dhata (Brahma) himself forgotten to ordain my death? Perhaps, it is so, and, therefore, life doth not quit me. O Krishna, O thou who dwellest in Dwaraka, O younger brother of Sankarshana, where art thou? Why dost thou not deliver me and these best of men also from such woe? They say that thou who art without beginning and without end deliverest those that think of thee. Why doth this saying become untrue. These my sons are ever attached to virtue and nobility and good fame and prowess. They deserve not to suffer affliction. Oh, show them mercy. Alas, when there are such elders amongst our race as Bhishma and Drona and Kripa, all conversant with morality and the science of worldly concerns, how could such calamity at all come? O Pandu, O king, where art thou? Why sufferest thou quietly thy good children to be thus sent into exile, defeated at dice? O Sahadeva, desist from going. Thou art my dearest child, dearer, O son of Madri, than my body itself. Forsake me not. It behoveth thee to have some kindness for me. Bound by the ties of virtue, let these thy brothers go. But then, earn thou that virtue which springeth from waiting upon me.'"

Vaisampayana continued,--"The Pandavas then consoled their weeping mother and with hearts plunged in grief set out for the woods. And Vidura himself also much afflicted, consoling the distressed Kunti with reasons, and led her slowly to his house. And the ladies of Dhritarashtra's house, hearing everything as it happened, viz., the exile (of the Pandavas) and the dragging of Krishna into the assembly where the princes had gambled, loudly wept censuring the Kauravas. And the ladies of the royal household also sat silent for a long time, covering their lotus-like faces with their fair hands. And king Dhritarashtra also thinking of the dangers that threatened his sons, became a prey to anxiety and could not enjoy peace of mind. And anxiously meditating on everything, and with mind deprived of its equanimity through grief, he sent a messenger unto Vidura, saying, 'Let Kshatta come to me without a moment's delay.'

"At this summons, Vidura quickly came to Dhritarashtra's palace. And as soon as he came, the monarch asked him with great anxiety how the Pandavas had left Hastinapore."

Next: Section LXXIX